General election 2024: do Britons think things would get better under Labour?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
May 27, 2024, 7:44 AM GMT+0

It depends on what you ask about, but most people generally think they wouldn’t get worse

Things can only get better. The aspirational words of D:Ream were present from the very beginning of the election campaign, blaring in the background as Rishi Sunak made his announcement, and will likely be a constant feature over the weeks to 4 July (not least with the band taking part in Glastonbury Festival this year).

The song was the anthem of Labour during their romp to victory in 1997, but does the sentiment match the public mood? Do Britons actually think things will get better under Labour?

The answers differ depending on the subject. Britons are most likely to think that the NHS (43%) and social care (41%) would improve under a Labour government, with only 16-18% thinking they would get worse. A further 25% think they would remain the same.

On the core issue of the cost of living, Britons are more likely to say it will improve under Labour (35%) than deteriorate (27%) – although a further 24% think Labour won’t have any impact on the issue.

When it comes to the wider economy, the public are divided: 33% expect Labour to be an improvement in this area, while 31% expect them to make things worse (and 21% think they will have no impact).

Labour’s weakest issues are defence and immigration. Only 11% of Britons think the situation with small boats crossing the channel will get better under Labour, compared to 32% who think it will get worse – the 37% who say they think it will have no impact is the highest of any area we asked about.

As for defence, just 14% think Labour will make strides here, compared to 30% who think they will make things worse, and 34% who think they will have no impact.

We first asked this battery of questions in July of last year, with the results having changed little since the onset of the campaign.

Most Britons generally think things wouldn’t get worse under Labour

While Labour has hardly inspired the British public, polling consistently shows that the public feel that it is “time for a change” after 14 years of Conservative rule. That being the case, it may not matter so much whether people think things would get better under Labour, so long as they don’t think they will actively get worse.

Looking at the results from this angle and we can see that between 48% and 68% of Britons think things would be ‘not-worse’ if Labour won the election.

Crucially, many 2019 Conservative voters feel the same way. Fully 48% of those who voted for the Tories at the last election say they have done a bad job since then, and 36% say that it is time for a change.

While only 4-22% expect Labour to make things better, between 31% and 58% of 2019 Tories think things would be ‘not-worse’ under Starmer.

With Britons looking for a change from a strongly disliked Conservative government, including a third of 2019 Tories, these figures suggest Labour is in a good position to convince otherwise sceptical voters that they are an alternative worth taking a chance on.

See the full results here

What do you think about Labour forming a government, the coming election, and everything else? Have your say, join the YouGov panel, and get paid to share your thoughts. Sign up here

Photo: Getty